Electric dreams: BMW's plan to revolutionise car sales
BMW intends to revolutionise the way it sells cars when it releases the first model in its range of electric vehicles in 2013.
The firm's UK managing director Tim Abbott says he plans to "break the mould" of the traditional way of selling cars and start afresh.
"I don't think the car industry has changed very much at all in the last 30 years," he told Autoblog.
"Electric vehicles give us an opportunity to look at the way we sell cars and do it completely differently."
BMW is set to launch its "mega city car", the i3, in 2013 and this will be closely followed by its performance electric model, the i8. But just how can these be sold any differently to how current cars are now?
"Well, I think we need to fit around what the customer wants more, not what we think they want," explained Abbott.
"So if the customer wants to test drive their car at 8pm on a Friday evening we need to facilitate that and take the car to them.
"I can see us having a mobile sales force for the i brand. We'd utilise the internet more too. That could even stretch to selling cars online, with the back up of our existing dealers of course. eBay manages it, so why can't manufacturers sell cars online too?"
The UK boss also thinks the tradition of buying a car and sticking with it for three years won't work with electric cars either. He revealed his team is working on a similar concept to Peugeot's Mu scheme which will allow customers to chop and change their cars to suit their needs whenever they want.
"There's certainly scope for a similar scheme," he said. "Allowing customers to use an electric car during the week to get to work and, say, a diesel 5 Series at the weekend to get away to the country would be popular.
"I can see a concept where people pay a monthly subscription which covers road tax and insurance on all the models. They could then use an electric bike, one of our new scooters, a motorbike, an electric car or a normal car. It's a concept we are looking at for the UK.
"If you order with Next before 9pm you can have your products the next day. There's no reason why you couldn't order a car swap and have it on your drive the next morning. We just need to work out how that would work and if it would suit customers. I think the future is going to be more about mobility than outright purchase."
Abbott's plan would certainly overcome problems with electric cars' range on longer journeys, something that has put many people off buying the current crop of EVs.
Would you use such a scheme? Do you think the tradition of buying and owning a car is now outdated? Let us know your thoughts by posting your comments below.